The antitrust regulator of the European Union has fined Facebook $122.7 million for misleading authorities during the acquisition process of WhatsApp. EU’s antitrust regulator said that the giant social media network claimed that the user accounts of WhatsApp and Facebook couldn’t be routinely matched in the course of the 2014 merger review. However, two years later, Facebook was able to do what it had said it was incapable of after user data between the two services started being merged.
A spokesperson for Facebook denied that the social media company deliberately misled the antitrust regulator arguing it was an unintentional error.
“We’ve acted in good faith since our very first interactions with the commission and we’ve sought to provide accurate information at every turn,” argued the spokesperson for the Palto Alto, California-based tech firm.
Just a fine
The decision by the antitrust regulator in the European Union does not, however, undo the clearance Facebook received and which paved the way for the acquisition of Facebook. Neither does it impose fundamental changes on Facebook’s operations.
The fine will hardly make a dent in Facebook’s coffers as the company generated $27.6 billion in revenues last year. But it is a development that adds to several other regulatory and legal setbacks that Facebook has encountered in Europe. Earlier in the week, the privacy watchdog of Facebook slapped the social media firm with a 150,000 euro fine on the grounds that the tech giant lacks transparency with regards to informing users how their data is collected on its services and platforms.
Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp is also under further scrutiny on fears that the terms of service of the messaging platform violates privacy rules as it allows the messaging app to share such user information as mobile phone numbers with the parent company. German regulators and several other regulators in other European countries have demanded that Facebook stop the data sharing.
According to the competition chief of the European Union Margrethe Vestager, the reason the fine slapped on Facebook was lower than what is should have been – 1% of global revenue – is because the social media platform fully cooperated with the authorities in the course of the probe. And after the formal accusations were made against Facebook late last year, the social media giant admitted and this helped too.